Pumped up by Euro 2012 fever, and no doubt inspired by Crouchaldinho's Roy Crouchson story as well, I’ve found the duty to defend my national team’s colors too by managing them in FM. I do have a good Football Manager CV with Portugal having led them to World Cup 2030 glory in FM2011 but have gone for something a little different here. Competing in the Euros, the World Cup, the qualifiers for both competitions, isn’t enough. If I’m going to have a full-time job as an international manager I want more games to play with.
Hence a new tournament was born: the FIFA World Knockout Trophy. Straight single-leg knockout cup format, yearly ran, all 208 FIFA national teams in it. Completely fantasy of course, but hopefully very exciting. You can download it here.
As per Roy Crouchson’s rules, I will pick players that are good for me in FM not the best players in real life. I’ve had a quick look at my possible picks and the difference to reality is incredible. No way I’d ever select a lot of these guys for real!
This is a side-project merely for fun hence I don’t expect to write as much as in my regular journeyman career – it will be more based on screenshots. Let the games begin.
This must be hardcoded since it's exactly the same as in real life. A pleasing draw, even if Russia is obviously uncomfortable. This is still a long way into the future though because before I have to contest the final few Euro Qualifiers, Euro 2012 (hopefully), and the World Knockout Trophy 2011/2012.
Euro 2012 Qualifiers
Worth remembering the rather dodgy position Portugal were in by Summer 2011 approaching the Euros, qualification under doubt. This is of course the situation I will have to manage as the first task under the command of Portugal. The remaining fixtures are Cyprus away, Iceland home and an unwelcoming Denmark away to finish the group.
- Brazilian-born striker Liédson has retired from international football.
- Fifa U20 World Cup is about to start. I have moved coach Emílio Peixe to take care of the team, whilst also instating André Seabra as the U19 manager. In real life Portugal reached the final (and lost to Brazil) in this competition, I highly doubt that will get repeated here.
A game where the scoreline clearly doesn't tell the entire story. We got the early goal then immediately the equalizer, and then struggled throughout most of the game, Cyprus even had a couple chances to take the lead. Pepe's physical presence in a corner eventually gave us the 2-1 goal and that let us drop back a little and operate almost exclusively on the counter, which unleashed an absolutely amazing hat-trick by Ronaldo, with 3 nearly impossible goals: the first from a very tight angle, the other two way from way out the area, all of them intermixed with mazy runs.
If we can keep getting the better out of him we'll excel.
The U20s lost in the quarter-finals of the U20 WC to Cameroon.
Well this couldn't have started any better. The bad news is the federation expects me to reach the quarter-finals of the tournament, which worries me a little bit - what if we draw Brazil the next round?
Key matches of the 1st round:
I set this up to see how we would do against a team weaker than us hence forced to set out defensively and frustrate us. It all went wonderful in the beginning, Ronaldo stealing the show again with a wonder goal, Danny adding a scrappy one then Postiga scoring another screamer off the bar. After Ronaldo got injured however it was all very underwhelming, I couldn't figure out how much was the loss of my star player, and how much was the complacency that suddenly had taken over the squad.
Ronaldo's injury is worrying because he should get back to action at about the exact time we have the crucial final Euro qualifiers (after the WKT 1st round match with Liechenstein). Meaning he should be below his full fitness there.
2 early goals from inspired long shots (Moutinho and Meireles the stars of this) settled the game and there was not much of a story afterwards.
Worth mentioning I'm not sure this fictional competition is working as well as I thought, it asked me for squad numbers and never told me to call up players for this - I just inherited them from the previous Euros games. Oops, strange. Hopefully the game won't crash at a point.
Quaresma with two runs decided this game, nicely done in the absence of Ronaldo while Nani continues to disappoint. Interesting that we face Iceland in the Euros qualifiers just before facing them in the WKT as well.
Heading in the final game away at Denmark this is the group table:
1st. Portugal 16
2nd. Norway 16
3rd. Denmark 11
So the Danish are out but it's still a very difficult fixture whereas the Norwegians face Cyprus at home. I'm not wildly optimistic and am seriously accepting the dreadful prospect of the playoffs. Ronaldo's almost certainly still out for this game. Let's see what happens.
Not really, I think it's better how it is because the games are played on a home or away basis, and it's like an FA Cup for nations.
Yeah that's exactly what I was aiming at, FA Cup style format. There wasn't much of a space calendar wise for a full blown tournament in one go neither. Altho I think there's something seriously screwed up with the callups of players the way I set it in the editor. It's okay as an international manager but I believe players are getting assigned to the national team for a very long time, meaning they don't return to their clubs for long periods.
Complete disaster as we missed both Postiga and Coentrão suspended and our more defensive strategy didn't work, even bringing in a very unfit Ronaldo as a desperate measure didn't help. Could've easily have been 4-0 too.
But to my complete surprise and delight, after the game we received the news that we have qualified for Euro 2012 as the best 2nd placed team in the groups.
Despite playing proactive possession football, we got the goal when hoofing it up the pitch for Postiga. Underwhelming result, Ronaldo had a shocker, Iceland hit the bar in injury time but we're through.
Argentina 2-3 Cameroon (a.e.t.)
Spain 2-2 France (France win on penalties)
So that's two favorites out this time, Cameroon the giant-killers of the 2nd round.
Our next opponents are Greece at home. Oh dear, the history weighs on the whole team...
Wow. I'm not sure this is as traumatic as Euro 2004, but it's certainly worse in terms of performance assessment. We were sh*t. And whilst frustration certainly is settling in and clouding my judgement, I'm considering abandoning this career, as the competition clearly doesn't work as I intended. My players have been assigned to the national team permanently for months, with the obvious implications: everyone has terrible match fitness, all the top clubs are struggling because their stars are all permanently out for their national teams.
Nevertheless our sole consolation is that we're not the only big team out, some other shockers this round too:
DR Congo 1-0 England
Tunisia 3-2 Germany
Paraguay 2-1 Brazil